Adventure Beyond Oahu: Is a Day Trip to Maui Worth It?

Lush greenery and a small waterfall along the Road to Hana on Maui Hawaii

Island hopping from Oahu, Hawaii to Maui for a day trip may not be ideal — more than one day on Maui is preferable — but it’s doable. The real question you need to ask yourself is, is it worthwhile for you?

As someone who’s recently traveled between the two islands and makes multiple Hawaii trips every year, this is what you need to consider when taking this detour during your stay on Oahu.

A Hawaiian Airlines plane on the tarmac at the Honolulu Oahu airport

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Why do a day trip from Oahu to Maui? Is it even feasible?

A day trip from Oahu to Maui can offer a refreshing contrast from Oahu’s bustling environment. Here’s how you can plan such a trip and what makes it worth considering.

A view of Iao Needle on Maui Hawaii

Feasibility of a day trip

A day trip from Oahu to Maui is absolutely feasible, thanks to regular daily commercial flights between the islands, with the in-journey taking only 30 to 40 minutes. This short flight time allows for an early departure and a late return, giving you ample time to explore some key highlights of Maui.

When I last booked an interisland flight with Hawaiian Airlines between Oahu and Maui, departure options were available for approximately every half hour, starting from around 6:00 a.m. and departing from Oahu’s Honolulu airport. The last daily Hawaiian Airlines flight scheduled from Maui’s Kahului airport to Honolulu departed at 9:00 p.m.

Hawaiian sea turtles resting on a beach on Maui Hawaii

Exploring a different pace

While Oahu is known for its vibrant city life and busy beaches, Maui offers a more relaxed atmosphere islandwide. It’s the perfect getaway if you’re looking to experience a slower pace without the high-rise buildings and bustling nightlife found in Honolulu.

Diverse landscapes and activities

Maui boasts a variety of landscapes and activities that differ significantly from Oahu. Yes, both islands boast superb scenery and beaches. But on Maui, you can drive the famous Road to Hana to experience lush rainforests and waterfalls. Or explore Maui’s Upcountry for a rural farm tour. Even a short visit can give you a taste of Maui’s unique charm.

How to get to Maui from Oahu: Exploring your travel options

Traveling between Oahu and Maui is quick and relatively easy, offering a couple of straightforward options.

Air travel: The most efficient route

Legroom on a Hawaiian Airlines interisland flight from Oahu to Maui

Commercial flights

Air travel is the most common and efficient way to hop between Oahu and Maui. The flight typically lasts about 30 minutes, making it a speedy option for those limited on time or planning just a day trip. 

Airlines such as Hawaiian Airlines provide frequent services, ensuring that travelers can move between the islands at various times throughout the day. While the flight itself is brief, it’s important to factor in additional time for airport security and boarding processes at Honolulu and Kahului airports.

Airlines that fly nonstop between Oahu and Maui: 

  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Mokulele Airlines (smaller propellor planes, also does private charter)
Green foliage along the hiking trail at Twin Falls Maui, Hawaii

Private charters

For a more personalized travel experience, private charter companies are available. These trips usually involve smaller aircraft, such as a Cessna propeller plane, and offer the advantage of using smaller terminals, potentially speeding up the security process. However, this convenience comes at a higher cost compared to standard commercial flights.

Cruise ship: A leisurely alternative

For those not in a hurry, traveling by cruise ship provides a scenic and relaxed way to visit multiple islands. This option allows travelers to unpack once and enjoy several days at sea, visiting not just Maui and Oahu but potentially other islands as well. It’s worth noting, however, that your schedule will be dependent on the cruise line’s itinerary, which might limit how much time you can spend on each island.

Travel options that aren’t available

Ferry service

It’s important to note that there is no longer a commercial ferry service between Oahu and Maui. While private boat charters are technically possible, they aren’t a practical choice due to the high costs and extended travel times involved.

Car travel

There is no bridge connecting Oahu and Maui, so driving between the islands is not an option.

The silhouette of a woman flanked by trees overlooking the ocean at Wailea Maui

My personal experience flying between Oahu and Maui

The flight itself is relatively fast. In my experience, in-air travel time is so short-lived that flight attendants have barely enough time to serve drinks before it’s time to prepare the cabin for landing. 

Bottom line: Flying remains the most practical and time-efficient way to travel between Oahu and Maui, whether you choose a commercial airline or a private charter. Meanwhile, a cruise offers a more laid-back journey, suitable for those looking to see multiple islands in one trip.

A waterfall and shallow wading pool at Twin Falls Maui, Hawaii

Is it worth going to Maui from Oahu?

Deciding whether a day trip to Maui from Oahu is worthwhile depends largely on what you hope to achieve during your visit. Here’s a breakdown of how to make the most of a day trip, and some factors to consider when deciding if it’s the right choice for you.

A woman in a dress and hat walks by a surfboard fence in Paia, Maui

Is a day trip to Maui worth the effort?

Yes, it’s worth it — but with a caveat. If there’s a particular activity or sight on your must-see list that isn’t available on Oahu, a quick hop to Maui is an easy, worthwhile adventure. 

For instance, you might be eager to hike the surreal landscape of Haleakala National Park’s crater or drive the famous Road to Hana, known for its stunning coastal views and lush rainforests. These unique experiences could justify the brief hop between the islands.

However, for a more immersive experience of what Maui has to offer, it might be better to extend your stay beyond just one day. The logistics of traveling—including airport security, car rental lines, and the drive to your chosen destinations—can consume a significant portion of your day. Staying overnight allows you to relax and explore at a leisurely pace, rather than rushing through your activities.

What to do on a Maui day trip

If you decide a day trip is right for you, planning is crucial. Public transportation options are slow and don’t reach all areas of the island, so plan on either renting a car for the day or booking a tour. 

A woman in a hat and sunglasses in a car with a beach buddies dog from the Maui Humane Society

Here are some spots we recommend visiting if you’re going to be on Maui for just a day. Remember: you’ll have time to visit only one or two areas for this short visit:

  • Road to Hana and North Shore: This iconic route offers some of the most picturesque views on the island, with opportunities to see waterfalls, beaches, and verdant landscapes.
  • West Maui Kapalua Drive: Ideal for those who appreciate scenic drives, this route provides views of rugged coastlines and luxury resorts.
  • Upcountry Maui: For a change of scenery, head to the rural uplands where you can tour farms and enjoy the panoramic views of rolling hills.
  • Haleakala National Park: A visit here is perfect for the adventurous. Whether you come for sunrise, sunset, or a midday hike, the vistas from over 10,000 feet are breathtaking.
A view looking up at the trees in the forest along the Road to Hana on Maui Hawaii

Final thoughts

A day trip to Maui from Oahu can be worth it if you’re focused on specific experiences that differ significantly from what Oahu offers. However, for a deeper connection with Maui’s culture and landscape, consider a longer stay. This approach minimizes travel stress and enriches your overall Hawaiian vacation experience.

About Author

Hi, I’m Gina — managing editor, Maui enthusiast, and human behind the keyboard here at Maui Trip Guide. When I’m not on the island at my Kihei condo, you can find me planning my next travel adventure from my home in the Pacific Northwest.

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